Jesus, the Bright Morning Star

by Beth Fore

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel
to give you this testimony
for the churches.  I am the Root
and the Offspring of David,
and the bright Morning Star.”
The Spirit and the bride say,
“Come!”  And let him who
hears say, “Come!”  Whoever
is thirsty, let him come; and
whoever wishes, let him take the
free gift of the water of life.”

(Revelation 22:16-17 NIV)

Jesus, the Bright Morning Star

Just as the sun is a great star
that brings warmth and light,
so are You, the precious Star of David,
who shines on us both day and night.

Our earth and sun are in relationship,
and the sun allows things to live.
People are in relation with You, Christ.
You have the power to love and forgive.

Everything that happens on the sun
affects the earth in some curious way.
Everything that happened to You, Jesus,
affects us as human beings every day.

The sun is a great source of energy
that provides the earth with power.
Jesus Christ, You dwell in our hearts
and daily renew us and empower.

The earth is tiny in comparison
with the sun’s magnanimous size.
One human being seems so small,
yet, You hear each person’s cries.

written by Beth Fore

*Jesus calls himself the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.

“I, Jesus have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.  I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”  (Revelation 22:16 NIV)

Israel, the Jewish nation, was told that the Messiah would come from the tribe of David.  It was important that Jesus claimed his identity and the fact that he was a descendant of David.  All prophecy in the Old Testament must come to pass just as it was prophesied.  Jesus, himself, is testifying that He is the root and the offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star who was prophesied before.

Our physical sun is a great star that shines on us during the day.  The sun warms the earth, and from it comes great energy and power.  The planets exist in relationship to the sun.  Similarly, Jesus is the spiritual sun who shines light into the world so that we may see His goodness.  Jesus is a great source of energy and power to the people in the world, and all people exist in relationship to Jesus.

The bright morning star is actually the planet Venus, which appears in the sky both at night and in the day.  It is a bright steady shining light that guided the shepherds of old, and of today, and it guides people in the right direction in a world of sin.  Jesus Christ does all of these things, and He is our bright morning star.

*The Spirit of God invites everyone who is thirsty to come to Him, and He will give them the free gift of the water of life.

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”. (John 6:35 NIV)

Our lives depend on water!  We cannot live without it!  When our bodies become dehydrated for lack of water, we often become faint or confused, and our bodies do not function in the healthy, active way they should act if enough water is present in our system.  Sometimes, we have to make ourselves drink the proper amount of water to keep our bodies healthy because we need a lot of water to make our bodies efficient.

In the same way, our souls thrive on our relationship with Jesus, and we cannot live without it, if we want to be spiritually alive.  We make selfish, careless decisions when we make them without considering God’s will for our lives.  When we pray often, and fervently, to our God, we ask Him to guide us in this life, to be the water that nourishes our spirit.  He gives us His Holy Spirit to live in us and serve as a living fountain to nurture us, sustain us, and to give us the strength and energy we need to do His will.

Jesus offers everyone who is thirsty and desires a drink of water, the free gift of the water of life.  Jesus is referring to himself.  He is the water of life, and He offers himself up freely to anyone who desires Him and is willing to receive Him.  What an awesome gift and promise this is for all people!  The gift has already been made possible through the blood of Christ on the cross, and His victory over death when He was resurrected; however, each person must decide for himself to receive or reject the gift of life.

APPLICATIONS

  1. Make a list of the names of Jesus (i.e., the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star, etc.) Use these names when you pray and speak about Jesus.
  2. We used the analogy of the Sun and the Son in this poem.  What other similarities do you see between them?
  3. What do you use to guide you when you are stumbling in the dark?
  4. What happens to you when you don’t drink enough water?  Make a list.  What happens when you don’t drink enough spiritual water?  Make a list.
  5. Why is this gift of living water the most valuable gift a person can ever receive?
  6. Why do you think so many people refuse this gift?

If you want to learn more about what it means to be a Christian or to become a Christian, click this link: https://woww.newlifebehavior.org/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/ If you have questions, please send us an email at nlbiministry@gmail.com.

Dust on My Shoes

by Beth Fore

Jesus answered, “If you want
to be perfect, go, sell your
possessions and give to the
poor, and you will have treasure
in heaven. Then come,
follow me.”
(Matthew 19:21 NIV)

Dust on My Shoes

I want to follow in Your footsteps, Jesus,
and let the wind blow Your dust on my shoes.
I want to willingly give all of myself to You
and, for Your sake, my life I will lose.

I want everyone to look at me and see
Your kindness and compassion on my face.
I want people to know that You are my Savior,
and I am the undeserving recipient of Your grace.

I want to be a light in a world of darkness
that shines brightly for the whole world to see,
that You are the life and the light in this world,
and You reign over all with divine sovereignty.

I want to be a servant to You, Jesus, and to others,
and spend my time and energy serving You and them.
I want to live a life of love and obedience
that exemplifies my faithfulness to You and to Him.

I want to be fearless, bold, and adventurous
and be willing to follow You anywhere.
I want to be submissive and wholly convinced
that wherever I go, You will be there.

I want to follow in Your footsteps, Jesus,
and let the wind blow Your dust on my shoes.
I want to willingly give all of myself to You
and, for Your sake, my life I will lose.

written by Anna Beth Fore

*Those who want to follow Jesus, and be perfect, must be willing to give up everything for Him, including their physical goods and possessions.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”  (Romans 12:1 NIV)

As human beings, we live in a fallen world; and the measure of happiness and success in this world is money and possessions.  The more you have, the more successful and admired you will be by most people in the world.  So, for the people who value happiness, success, and admiration in this world, it sounds foolish and ridiculous to give up everything you own, and have worked for in life, to follow a religious leader.

Only a human being whose heart, mind, and soul has been transformed by the Holy Spirit of God can possibly choose to give up everything for Jesus Christ.  A person can choose to sacrifice his body as a living sacrifice to God because he understands the gift of salvation that has been given to him.  The pure, holy, and perfect sacrifice that has been made for him through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ covers all of the sins of mankind—past, present, and future.

The follower of Christ is a person who seeks the will of God, and not his own will.  He is not proud, selfish, or greedy; but, rather, he is humble, benevolent, and generous.  He believes and obeys God’s first two commandments:  “He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Luke 10:27 NIV)

*The true follower of Christ wants to be like Christ, to live like Christ, to reflect Christ, and to be willing to give his life for Christ.

“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’”  (Luke 9:23-24 NIV)

A true follower of Christ gives himself up in order to become a reflection of Jesus Christ.  He wants to shine light into a dark, sinful world.  When people look at his goodness and mercy, he wants them to know that all that he is results from the glory of God who has changed him into His likeness.

He wants other people to see him as a willing servant who cares about them and desires to help them, and he wants to share the love and grace of Jesus with them.  He wants to be fearless, bold, and adventurous for the sake of Jesus, so that others will be attracted to Him and want to follow Him.

The true follower wants others to see him as being totally submissive to God in every way, completely dependent on Him for his every need.  He is even willing to give up his life for the sake of Christ.  The true follower desires that the dust from Jesus’ feet will blow on his shoes.

APPLICATIONS

  1. Write down all of the reasons you can honestly think of that prevent you from being willing to give up everything for Christ.
  2. Choose one of these reasons each day and pray that God will remove this fear from you and give you the faith you need to overcome these fears.
  3. Write down several of your prized possessions.  How can you give these items away (or sell them and give the money away) in a manner that will give God the glory and praise?
  4. Write a prayer that will ask God to give you the wisdom, strength, and determination to help you become a more submissive servant to His will in your life.  Then pray this prayer every day for a week, a month, etc., and see how it changes your life.
  5. If all of this seems too difficult, begin by thinking of one kind, generous thing you can do for someone else each day.  Evaluate how this changes your heart, and then do even more.

If you want to learn more about how to become a Christian, click this link: https://wowwnlbi.wordpress.com/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/

Just a Closer Walk with God

by Beth Fore

Who is wise and understanding
among you?  Let him show it
by his good life, by deeds done
in the humility that comes from
wisdom.  But if you harbor bitter
envy and selfish ambition in your
hearts, do not boast about it or deny
the truth.  Such “wisdom” does not
come down from heaven but is
earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.  For
where you have envy and selfish
ambition, there you find disorder
and every evil practice.  But the
wisdom that comes from heaven
is first of all pure; then peace-
loving, considerate, submissive,
full of mercy and good fruit,
impartial and sincere.
Peacemakers who sow
in peace raise a harvest
of righteousness.

(James 3:13-18 NIV)

Just A Closer Walk with God

Father, as I meditate on Your Word today,
I understand that You alone know the path I will take.
I ask for Your wisdom, insight, and discernment
as I submit my will to Yours in the decisions I make.

Give me complete trust and faith in You, Father,
as You walk with me on this journey today.
Give me Your power, strength, and faithfulness
as Your Holy Spirit guides me to follow Your Way.

Help me to live this life as an exciting adventure
looking forward to the delights and sorrows that lie ahead.
Help me to live life fearlessly and expectantly
as I submit wholly to You and follow where I am led.

Keep my eyes and mind focused on You, Father,
so that Satan’s deceitful lies don’t lead me astray.
Transform me into the likeness of Your Son, Jesus,
so that in every thought and deed I will seek to obey.

Use me as Your vessel to bring honor and glory to You,
so that others will know You and offer you praise.
Shower me with Your spiritual blessings, Father,
and walk closely beside me for all of my days.

written by Beth Fore

*A wise person demonstrates wisdom by living a good life and by doing good deeds which are done in humility.

“Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”  (James 3:13 NIV)

A wise person lives a good life and says and does good deeds for others in humility.  Humility is a trait that pleases God very much, though it is not often esteemed by mankind.  The desire to good for other people without being recognized, praised, or rewarded for it is a sign of an humble person.  A Christian lives his life so that he can bring honor, glory, and praise to God, not to himself. 

A humble person serves God and other people for their benefit, not for his own benefit.  He recognizes that the gifts and material things he has come from God, and he is grateful and thankful to God for them.  So, a wise person is not seeking acclaim, or fame, or attention when he does kind deeds for others.  He wants to be sure that Almighty God receives the honor and glory for any good that he may do to other people.

*A wise person understands that the most important relationship he will ever have is with God, and he will seek to draw closer to God through prayer, studying the Bible, listening to the voice of God, and trusting in Him completely.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

A person who desires to have an intimate relationship with God asks God for wisdom, understanding, and discernment.  He wants to trust God and rely on Him to determine what is good for his life.  He asks for God’s power, strength, and faithfulness and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help him do God’s will.

He desires to live a life of adventure, delighting in the surprises God has in store for his life.  He asks God to be with him as he walks in the valleys, on the plains, and upward to the mountaintops.

The person desiring a good relationship with God wants to stay focused on Christ and to become more like him each day. He wants to be good like Christ, live like Christ, and be a light and beacon to the people living in sin and darkness.

*Peacemakers please God, and they enjoy a much happier relationship with God and with other people than those people who sow discord.

“Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”  (James 3:18 NIV)

God calls his children to be peacemakers in the world.  When we maintain peace and harmony with other people, everyone is happier and kinder and more like Christ.  The fruit that comes from sowing peace is a fruitful crop of goodness and righteousness.  God blesses the peacemakers.

APPLICATIONS

  1. Examine yourself and your motives for doing good things for other people.  Is your motive to give God the honor and glory, or do you desire the praise and recognition for yourself?
  2. Spend time studying, meditating, and praying about humility.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you look for ways to give honor and glory to God for the good things you do for others.
  3. Write down a list of things you may already do, or that you can begin doing, to show that you are really giving the decisions and choices of your life over to God, rather than worrying over them yourself.
  4. Are you a peacemaker or a troublemaker?  How can you improve your behavior toward others so that they think of you as a peacemaker?

If you want to learn more about how to become a Christian, click this link: https://wowwnlbi.wordpress.com/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/

Today is the Day

by Anna Beth Fore

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!’
Let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
    let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!
Let the trees of the forest sing,
    let them sing for joy before the Lord,
    for he comes to judge the earth.”

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.”

(1 Chronicles 16:31-34 NIV)

Today is the Day

This is the day that You have made
and You want me to rejoice and be glad.
Regardless of my circumstances, Lord,
help me rejoice in You and not be sad.

This is the day that You have made,
and it may be that it is my last.
Help me be present in every moment,
to slow down and not move so fast.

This is the day that You have made,
and You have prepared it for me.
Open my ears to hear Your voice,
and open my eyes so that I will see.

This is the day that You have made,
and You give me new opportunity.
Help me seek Your guidance and lead
and surrender to You in humility.

This is the day that You have made,
and it is unique, unlike any other.
Give me a heart of love and compassion,
so that I will treat every one as my brother.

This is the day that You have made, Lord,
and You shower me with blessings today.
Open my heart to Your Spirit and Your will.
Let me cherish the blessings You send my way.

written by Anna Beth Fore

*Almighty God created the heavens and the earth and everything and everyone in them.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  (Genesis 1:1 NIV) 

As human beings, we are in awe as we look at the mighty ocean and hear the roar of the crashing waves on the rocks.  We marvel at the beauty and majesty and vastness of the heavens at night.  We see the different phases of the moon, the myriad of stars, the planets, and all the clouds in the heavens; and we cannot fathom the creativity, the power, the Sovereignty of the One who made these beautiful things that surround us.

*All of nature acknowledges and worships God as the creator, the King of kings, and the Lord over all!

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him.  Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.”  (1 Chronicles 16:29 NIV)

It is absolutely amazing that the heavens rejoice, the earth is glad, the sea and everything in it resound, the fields are jubilant, the trees in the forest sing, and all of them will sing for joy before the Lord!  What a marvelous picture!  All of these things are creations of God, and all of these things choose to praise God, their Creator, by singing “The Lord reigns,” with great joy and thanksgiving! 

Please notice that there is no mention of nature complaining or moaning about anything.  Rather, the focus is on God and the joy and gratitude they have for “being” the creation of such a good, loving,  and wonderful God.  They acknowledge that God’s goodness and love is infinite and forever.  God loved them when He created them.  He loved them when they sang praises to Him.  He will love them for eternity.

*We, too, are creations of God, and He wants us to rejoice and be glad in Him.

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NIV)

God desires that mankind will rejoice and be joyful that He has created them, and He delights when human beings shout for joy with, “The Lord reigns”.  Regardless of what is going on in our lives, whether it is good or bad, our Creator wants us to shout our joy, our thanksgiving, our praises to Him.  God has a plan for our lives, and everything that we do or say is supposed to bring honor and glory to Almighty God.

Let us begin each day of our lives thanking God for creating us, for caring and providing for us, for loving us enough to sacrifice His son for us, and for giving us hope for eternal life with Him.  Let us seek His guidance and leadership in our lives, and let us open our minds and hearts to hear His Spirit speak to us and show His will for our lives, and encourage us to be obedient, willing servants of God Almighty, who created us, sustains us, saves us, and loves us like no other being can!

APPLICATION

  1. Name some specific blessings in your life right now, and then pray a prayer of thanksgiving to God.
  2. Look for some specific scriptures that tell us how we can praise God.  Write these down, and say them as part of your praise prayer of thanksgiving in the morning.
  3. What are some things you can do when your circumstances are difficult and challenging and you feel alone and discouraged?
  4. What is one thing you can think of to do each day to encourage yourself and someone else who may be facing difficult challenges?
  5. Offer up a prayer to God asking Him to give you the joy of His Holy Spirit each day, so that you can be joyful and thankful every day despite your circumstances in life.

If you want to learn more about how to become a Christian, click this link: https://wowwnlbi.wordpress.com/what-it-means-to-follow-jesus-how-to-become-a-christian/

Daily Bread

by Jo Umberger, Vice President, NLBI

Are we satisfied with God’s provision and the timing of that provision?

In Luke 11:3 when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He included the prayer “Give us each day our daily bread.” (NIV)

He did not teach us to pray, “Give us today everything we will need for the year,” or “Give us today all that we want,” or “Give us today everything we think we need.” He taught us to depend on Him for everything we need and to ask Him for it.

This mindset of depending on God daily is challenging for me sometimes. I have been taught to think ahead, plan ahead and save money. While these are wise principles, they do not build trust in God IF I believe that I am my provider instead of God.

Yet He proves Himself faithful. When I needed a loan to finish college, God provided the loan as well as the money to pay it back on time. When my husband and I wanted to become missionaries, He provided a church that partnered with us. When we lost our jobs at the same time years later, God provided for us. I simply need to remember these testimonies in times of temptation.

When we go to the Father and ask for immediate needs only, we begin to rely on Him more. Perhaps if we had everything we need for an extended period of time, we would not trust Him. Perhaps we would not give Him the glory or the thanks for His provision.

He is our Provider. Each day. And each day we are called to trust Him.

Jesus Is With Us Always . . . to the End!

by Jo Umberger, Vice President, NewLife Behavior International

“‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”).‘” Matthew 1:23 NIV

At this season of the year, we often hear about Jesus’ birth, including the passage above, which tells us that God is with us. Here are Scriptures to help us demonstrate our belief in His continual presence, which also helps give us peace.

Reassurance that He is with us always

Jesus commanded His disciples to make disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything He commanded them. Then he reassured them they would not be alone but that He would be with them to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)

He is with us. Every hour. Every day. In easy times and tough times. To the very end of the age.

How many of us realize that we are NEVER ALONE?! Even in the midst of trouble, He reassures us that we can have peace and that He has overcome the world (John 16:33).

What can you do to help you remember that God is always with you?

No reason to fear

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

Since a spirit of fear does not come from God, we know it is from our enemy, the devil. Our good Father, on the other hand, has given us a spirit of power. This power is strong enough to overcome the temptation to fear.

He has given us a spirit of love and of a sound mind. Let us focus on how we can demonstrate God’s love and to think soberly rather than focusing on things that can make us fearful!

Is there something that you fear this day? Pray about it, giving it to Him.

Mercy and grace to help us

We need these most precious gifts of mercy and grace from God. He promises them to us “in our time of need” if we approach His throne with confidence. (Hebrews 4:16)

When we ask with confidence, we can be assured that He will provide mercy and grace for us in our time of need. We need to realize that He is with us and will help us if we will ask in confidence, trusting Him and that His good, pleasing and perfect will shall be accomplished. (See Romans 12:2)

What do you need to ask of God in confidence?

Let us remember that our God is with us always, that we have no reason to fear and that He will provide grace to help us. By doing these things, we are demonstrating our trust in His Word, our trust that Jesus truly is Immanuel.

Is there anything you need freedom from?

by Jo Umberger, Vice President, NewLife Behavior International

Sometimes we are shackled and don’t even know it. A person who grew up in a home where there was verbal abuse, for example, may be angry and may even imitate the behaviors witnessed during childhood. The same is true for any type of negative behavior that was modeled during one’s formative years.

To make matters more complicated, some of the things we feel compelled to do make the body feel good temporarily. Sometimes we are motivated to engage in destructive activities so we can feel accepted by the crowd, even if there is a massive price to pay financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Whether the things we struggle with are addictive to the point of destroying our bodies, minds, families, homes, or finances or whether we simply don’t stick to good boundaries with those who are unkind, many of us are hurting. And those hurts hold us back from what our hearts strongly desire, beginning with love, inner peace and confident expectation for the future.

So how do we find these seemingly illusive things in a world where we can feel imprisoned regardless of the amount of money, education or status we have? How do we find peace whether we are literally living behind bars or feel bound because our religion is a rule book rather than a relationship?

We obviously have to look for a new resource or a new perspective.

During a time of fear, Jesus offers peace.

“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’”  John 20:19 from the Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

When the winds and the waves of life surround us, Jesus can quiet the storm if we will trust and follow Him.

“Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray. When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,” Mark 6:45-51 NSRV

Jesus gives us reason to have hope for the future.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16 NSRV

This passage gives us the confidence we need in Jesus to have the hope we need for this life . . . and to know there is eternal life after this life.